Without the Word of God, Our Curriculum Would Be a Vapor, Mohler Says in Spring Convocation Address
The foundation for Southern Seminary’s curriculum by which it trains ministers may be boiled down to one truth, President Albert Mohler said Thursday in his annual spring convocation address: God has spoken.
Speaking on Isaiah 40:1-5 Mohler said that the most important truth humans can know is that “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The existence of the self-revealing God is the irreducible foundation for the entire Christian faith. Thus, those truths undergird every class and every program in Southern Seminary’s curriculum. Convocation service was held Thursday after it was postponed Tuesday due to inclement weather.
“In the college and seminary, we are unashamedly and unabashedly committed to the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” Mohler said. “And we only know what it (the faith) is because he is there, and he is not silent. We only have a clue what Christianity is because he is there, and he is not silent. We have no way to know what is right belief and what is wrong belief except for this: he is there, and he is not silent.
“We don’t know what to teach. We don’t know what to accept. We only know what is right to convey to others and what is right to give to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in the feeding of the flock because he is there, and he is not silent; both of those sentences are absolutely necessary.”
Mohler said God calls all faithful churches and Christian institutions to embrace, proclaim, and teach the centrality of divine revelation in the Bible and the climax of that revelation in the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. Because Southern Seminary is Scripture-centered, it is also Christ-centered, he said.
“There would be no church if God didn’t speak, and in these days he has spoken in his Son,” Mohler said. “In the Son, the Father speaks redemption. In this passage (Isaiah 40), it is about the prophetic Word where the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Without the Word of God, there would be no reason for Southern Seminary to exist, Mohler said, because there would be nothing to say about God.
“We are able to do what we do here for only one reason: the Word of God is, the Word of God stands, the Word of God endures forever. Otherwise, we would have no idea what to teach; our curriculum would be nothing but a vapor. Frankly, it would be artificial. It might be accidentally helpful because it would accidentally correspond with the truth. We don’t want to accidentally correspond with truth, we just want to teach truth.
“We don’t apologize for the centrality of the Bible in the curriculum of the institution. We don’t apologize for the fact that, if we didn’t do anything else, we would do biblical studies. If we did nothing else, we would just turn to the Word of God. We have to start with the Bible because we have no other place to start.”
The monumental book by Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, was published 100 years ago this month. In that work, which Mohler said helped shape him as a leader and theologian, Machen argued that liberal Christianity, which rejected the miracles of Scripture, the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, and many of the central doctrines of the Christian faith, was no Christianity at all. Liberal Christianity and biblical Christianity are two different religions.
Mohler said the culture of 2023 further confirms Machen’s thesis, which is why Southern Seminary is resolved to stand firmly upon God’s inspired, inerrant Word as central to all it teaches and in all its training.
“It was either biblical Christianity or no Christianity,” Mohler said. “One hundred years later it is clear that Machen was right. If you unleash Christianity from Scripture, you unleash Christianity from Scripture. Looking back at the distinction Machen made—it’s a distinction that has to stand. It is a judgment that he made and that judgment tragically has been confirmed over and over and over again.”
Two New Professors
Mohler announced the addition of two new professors to the SBTS faculty this semester: Timothy J. Kleiser and Gregory A. Wills.
Kleiser will serve as assistant professor of philosophy and literature. Kleiser is no stranger to the SBTS community; he previously served as executive assistant to the dean of Boyce College and has also taught in areas of theology and philosophy. Kleiser earned his MDiv from Southern Seminary and is working on a PhD in philosophy at SBTS.
Wills is also a familiar face to the Southern Seminary family; he taught church history for 25 years at SBTS and served as dean of the seminary’s School of Theology before taking a position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2019. Wills returns to the SBTS family and will serve as professor of church history and as director of research and doctoral studies.